How to Become a Registered Nurse

NursingFebruary 06, 2014

If you are wondering how to become a registered nurse, your preparation for this exciting career involves a choice of three pathways. Entry into this profession may be gained through the attainment of a diploma from a hospital, as well as earning an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing from a college or university. After your training within any of these three routes, you will take the National Council Licensure Examination. Upon successful completion of this exam, you will have the opportunity to begin seeking a position within this field.

Diploma Programs

Typically lasting three years, diploma nursing programs are offered by hospitals or medical facilities. Your curriculum will include classwork along with hands-on training. While this option was popular in previous decades, very few locations offer these programs today. Nursing education has now shifted from hospital-centered instruction to the college and university system.

Associate Degree in Nursing

Your selection of an associate degree program will involve a minimum of two years of college coursework. Some science and liberal arts studies are included, but the focus is on the mastery of technical skills that are a part of registered nursing. Career options open to you with this degree will not be as broad as those offered to nurses with a bachelor's degree.

Bachelor's Degree in Nursing

The primary route to professional nursing is the bachelor of science program, which involves four years of college or university coursework. Your studies in the first two years will provide a foundation in the biological sciences, such as physiology, nutrition and microbiology. Your studies in the final two years will include instruction in acute and chronic disease, in addition to a spectrum of nursing courses. Graduates of this program will be equipped for a wide range of nursing careers, as the curriculum has more content in topics like leadership, research and health policy. If you desire the most comprehensive of the three pathways and a curriculum that provides an in-depth understanding of the issues affecting health care delivery, this is your best option.

Those seeking information on how to become a registered nurse can embark on any of the above channels, as all of these educational programs will open doors to entry-level positions in this respected profession. Regardless of the nursing program you select, you will be on the road to a rewarding vocation. Some of the rewards are financial. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the national yearly average wage for registered nurses in 2010 was nearly $65,000. Yet the rewards encompass more than a comfortable income. They also involve challenging work and the fulfillment that comes from knowing you play an important role in the lives of many patients.

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